His Face in My Mirror

mirror - photo by Anastasia Anastasia on Unsplash

This story is inspired by Luke 7:36–50 and John 12:1–8.

I bought that expensive perfumed oil for myself. I don’t think I’m wealthy, but I do have enough money to spend on whatever I want. I planned to use the oil to soften my dry skin—to make me more attractive. I admit vanity is my recurring sin. I love seeing myself in a mirror. After listening to Jesus, however, I wanted to turn away from self-absorption. I felt ashamed. At the same time, I knew Jesus accepted and loved me as I am. And he was inviting me to a more loving, self-giving life.

But what could I do with that costly oil now in a way that might help others? That’s when I thought of giving Jesus a foot massage. He walks so much, and his feet take a beating. When I rubbed his calloused toes, the oil melted into his cracked skin. As I looked up, he closed his eyes, tilted his head back, and his whole body relaxed.

I wiped the extra oil on my hair. That was genuine spikenard! Why waste it on the floor? And now, many days later, my hair still emits the pleasant honeysuckle scent and reminds me of my beloved Lord and the anointing I’d provided.

Alone in my room now, I slowly brushed my hair, praying as I looked in my mirror, “My God, I need your grace to avoid returning to vanity. I cannot do this alone. Jesus, I miss you.”

I closed my eyes, but the specter of his anguished face during his Crucifixion floated before me. Distressed, I opened my eyes.

And there he was, reflected in my mirror. Was he really standing behind me, or was I imagining this? As if reading my mind, the man said, “I am here.”

His voice was unmistakable. I sat frozen, looking at his face in my mirror, not wishing this vision to disappear.

“I am here. I’m really here.”

His tone was open, loving, and alive. I dared to turn, and I fell to his feet, dropping the mirror on the table. I kissed his feet, and tears fell again, only this time, they were tears of joy, not shame.

“My Lord and my God!” I knew it was he.

“Yes, ask me for grace whenever you’re tempted. You cannot overcome your faults on your own,” Jesus smiled. “Together, all things are possible. I will be your strength.”

I rubbed his feet again, but now there were large nail holes in them. I stayed there some time, until he reached down, took my hand, and helped me to my seat.

“Pick up your mirror again and look in it,” he said, smiling. I obeyed and looked at his reflection behind me.

“I am here, Mary,” he said, and I watched his image superimpose itself on mine.

“Oh, God, you are within me!” I said. God’s love is extravagant, like a puddle of perfumed oil seeping into a floor and evoking memories for a week.

I savored this insight as his face faded. When I turned around, Jesus was no longer physically standing there. I looked back in the mirror to better remember his face, resurrected, standing behind me. That very day, the Crucifixion ceased to haunt me.

I kept his visit to myself, treasuring his words: “I am here.”

Photo by Anastasia Anastasia on Unsplash.

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Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and author of Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. Loretta has six years experience as a spiritual director and was trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. She is also a workshop presenter and retreat leader on Ignatian spirituality and prayer. Loretta is a founder of Women’s Ministry at St. Francis in Sacramento, CA. With more than 20 years in ministry, including Christian Life Community (CLC) and small group leadership, Loretta is an expert in being busy. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.

20 COMMENTS

  1. I was truly inspired by this reflection. Taking time to reflect on Jesus presence in our lives brings us to a more fuller participation in the life we are called to live.

  2. Hi Loretta, truly what you described is very similar to my journey in discovering the beauty of Jesus and the love of the Father in my life. I also have been hearing a call to participate in an 8 day spiritual exercises of St. Ignatious. I see your trained in it. Where do I go to participate and get away from all the distracting sounds around me?

    • There are several centers of Ignatian spirituality that offer the exercises with spiritual directors online. The Center for Ignatian Spirituality in Sacramento is one of them.
      You will never regret taking the time to learn new exercises to strengthen your prayer. Best wishes!

      • Thank you. I appreciate this. I’m at a moment in my life that suddenly my career no longer inspires me and I feel I’m being tugged towards something else, I just don’t know what that may be. I’m hoping the spiritual exercises can offer clarity and discernment. My prayers for you that Jesus thru His Mother will always lead you to God’s love, mercy and wisdom.

  3. Loretta, great reflection. If we stop periodically during the day, the Holy Spirit will send a thought or inspiration that if we act on it we will move closer to Jesus, His Heavenly Father or the Holy Spirit. It might be a short prayer or a visit to the Church for prayer, Adoration, the Stations, or even flowers for God’s gift to you, your spouse.

    • Yes! I love it. And when I’m out on a walk and see one tiny flower on what might be called a weed, I can see that as a flower gift from God to me today.

  4. This is an amazing reflection, Loretta. So beautiful. I love to read your work, but tops them all ! Thank you very much.

  5. If this is really TRUE and not just a beautifully written Reflection, you have been truly blest! Either way thank you. A.M.D.G.

  6. Truly one of the Most Profound reflections I have ever read…a keeper! Thanks for sharing this, Loretta. Blessings, Mary

  7. Loretta, that was beautiful. I felt like I was there witnessing what was happening. We all have some type of vanity and pride. I surely will ask Jesus for grace the next time I am tempted.

  8. “I am here.” The words of Jesus. These are the words I take with me from your beautiful essay today. In some form, this is my prayer every day. Loretta, thank you for writing this.

  9. What a beautiful, consoling reflection, Loretta.
    What a gifted “story teller” you are, getting right to the heart of the matter that I can so easily relate to.

    Thank you.
    Ps: May I ask prayers please for a special intention.

    Thank you. X

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